The guru is dead

The guru era is over.

The pedestal has become an irrelevant artifact.

Hierarchal structures are no longer useful.  

Hypocrisy and deception are rampant in the world of spirituality, and people are sick of it. 

Many religious and spiritual traditions are based in a vertical structure of codependence. The unspoken agreement is that the guru or priest will provide you with secret knowledge and transcendence so long as you continue to relinquish your personal autonomy.  It's the oldest game of disempowerment there is.

The original scam of scams: "you're fundamentally flawed, conceived in sin, but we'll fix you. It'll take a lifetime, maybe longer." 

Hogwash!

Wisdom can't be purchased.

Heaven doesn't accept bribes. 

And wholeness is your natural state, already and always. 

To attain wisdom and recognize inherent truth, we must live our own lives, make honest mistakes, self-reflect, and continually grow. A coach or mentor -- who provides clear and effective practices based on direct experience -- can be of incalculable value. But the structure has to be right from the beginning. 

There's a difference between receiving guidance from a spiritual mentor and outsourcing our power. 

It's the difference between top-down authoritarianism and spiritual friendship. The former is an antiquated structure based in fear and control. The later, a precious gem.   

Spiritual friendship is the new black (although it's not actually a new idea).

It's a horizontal relationship based in mutual respect. Transparency. Vulnerability (on both sides). And clear communication.  

It functions on the principle of reflection:

Wholeness reflects wholeness until wholeness remembers it is whole. 

Uncage the animal

The yoga and spirituality movement has a bad habit of demonizing what is erroneously labeled as our "lower nature." The message -- sometimes proudly spoken, other times quietly implied -- is that to be highly evolved, we need to transcend our animal desires and primitive needs. 

Nonsense!

Too often, spiritual bullshit results from the inability to face our full humanity. Then, dogma and idealism spread within the community like a disease. The false pretense around "living in the light" is an unconscious avoidance strategy. 

We attempt to transcend what we are most afraid of. 

Lust. 

Anger. 

Pain. 

Rage. 

Confusion. 

Insecurity.

That secret little fetish; be it for gangster rap, artisan ice cream, vintage kung fu flix, or kinky sex. 

Any part of us that is denied, subdued, or hidden from our community is likely to come out sideways. 

Remember that scene from the movie Chocolat!

Guilt, shame, and denial have never worked. 

Not for Catholic priests. Not for Zen monks. Not for straight-laced soccer moms. Not for secular spiritualists. 

The fact is, we are a exquisite bundle of contradictions. To be awake is to illuminate and embody the full spectrum of our being. It's about integrating every aspect of ourselves and making the most conscious choices we can in all Nine Spheres.

That means getting down into the dirt of life. 

Our practice includes the shadow and the animal. 

All of it. 

The whole beautiful mess. 

Facts don't feel

"I feel like you're not attracted to me anymore." 

"Why, I bought you flowers the other day."

"Yes, it's true, you bought me flowers. That's a fact, and it was a nice gesture. But what I really want is you. Your presence. Your attention."

"But I do so much for you. I bought you those new shoes. I upgraded your smartphone without you asking. I took you to that farm-to-table bistro you like in uptown. I paid for the new bathroom remodel."

"You're right. You did all of those things. You give me so much, materially. I appreciate it. I feel fortunate, privileged even.  But do you hear me when I tell you that something is missing? I can't quantify it --  and you can't fact check it -- but it's real to me."

"I don't understand what you are talking about. I'm trying to have a logical conversation with you, but you're so overly emotional all the time. What do you want from me?" 

"I said it already.  It's not that I want something from you. I want you."

"Give me a break. You have me. We've been together for 6 years. Your name is on my life insurance policy."

"But you're rarely fully present with me anymore. You give more attention to your motorcycle. It's like you're always preoccupied. I can't feel you and it's harming our relationship."

                                                                      . . .

Whether it's with our lover or our children or our parents, we too often get caught in the trap of trying to be right. We tally and manipulate facts to fortifiy our position. 

But relationships don't thrive on facts.

They thrive on feelings.

Respect.

Connection. 

Intimacy. 

Love. 

Social blueprint

The primary driver of our society is cosmology.

The myths we unconsciously believe, and the assumptions we hold, form a world-view that shapes our choices. Our mental framework functions like a blueprint. It informs how we think, speak, and act.

An architectural blueprint contains the specifics of how a building will be built. It there are structural errors in the blueprint, the building will not be sound. Imagine the consequences of a sky-scraper constructed without skillful consideration of the laws of physics, gravity, and so on. 

Our collective cosmology is a social blueprint.

And we find ourselves at a critical point where we can no longer afford to build our civilization from an unedited draft.

Our current cosmology is riddled with misunderstandings about the basic laws of the cosmos. Despite compelling evidence to the contrary (from ancient wisdom traditions, quantum physics, and deep ecology) the myth we still unconsciously believe is one of scarcity, separation, and conflict. 

The battle of the sexes.

Man vs. Nature.

Mind over matter.

Black and white at odds. 

God vs. devil. 

The "us" and "them" fallacy. 

Until the underlying world-view that informs these stories is dismantled, we will continue to construct our collective experience from the same blueprint. 

If it's change we want, we must ask ourselves the pressing question: 

Do we welcome the shattering of our old beliefs systems, or -- out of habit and fear -- do we clutch to and defend what we think we know?

To build a different society, we need a different blueprint. 

There is nothing beyond

There is only the animal, this elemental body-mind-spirit.

There is no indwelling objective observer. Mind is matter looking at its own reflection. Energy is consciousness birthing itself. Music is silence turned inside out. The entire cosmos is one body. No separation whatsoever exists. No heaven. No hell. No sacred. No profane.

All forms, all names, are only wholeness within wholeness. The unnamable. A cohesive tissue, totally inclusive, arching and curling, rubbing against itself in ecstatic expression. Skin wet with beads of sweat from the wave-like action of making love with eternity.

Awakening is nothing more than arriving here in the midst of the already integral.

Where else is there to be?

Embodiment is enlightenment.

Not the separate body of our concepts -- the point of reference we assume is "I" -- that's an erroneous myth. It's the body of totality, of which everything is a part, that we yearn for. The animal body. The salivating body. This, right here. 

This dirt.
These bones.  
This blood.
These people.

What is practice, then?

Eat. Shit. Bathe. Work. Drink. Sing. Dance. Love. Mate. Sleep.

The earthly path of heavenly awakening is just this.

There is nothing beyond. 

I have a dream

On this national holiday celebrating the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. it seems fitting to refresh the dream; the one peace lovers have been dreaming since time immemorial. 

The dream of cooperation, care and kindness. 

The dream of one people-hood living in unity on Earth.

Bob Marley's dream: "One love, one heart, one destiny."

Gandhi's dream: "Whenever you are confronted with an opponent, conquer him with love."

Lennon's dream: “Declare it. Just the same way we declare war. That is how we will have peace. . . we just need to declare it.”

Siddhartha's dream: "Just as a mother would protect her only child with her life, even so let one cultivate a boundless love toward all beings.”

Christ's dream: "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient with one another in love."

Martin Luther's dream: "[W]e will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood."

It has been over half a century since Dr. King spoke those words in Washington in what was to become one of humanity's greatest demonstrations of freedom. And yet, with all of the strides we have made toward equality and human dignity, we find ourselves again in perilous waters. The old habit of division rears its head. The threat of tyranny echoes in the angry voices of leaders of nations. Left and right are more polarized than ever. 

There is an anxiety in the air. People are uneasy; as if bracing for catastrophe. 

Clearly, the dream needs re-dreaming. 

Their dream. Our dream. 

It is not enough to stand on the shoulders of our sages and saints. It is not sufficient to quote their words of wisdom and bask in their vision. For in some strange way, we are the continuity of their desires. We are the offspring of peace-lovers gone before.  And if we do not act, their potency vanishes. That is the way ancestry works. It's not only genetic, but spiritual. 

The dream lives in us now, as a longing deep in the soul. 

It is made real through our thoughts, words and actions. 

It comes to life in the way we choose to conduct ourselves moment by moment.